Ravi Kurani can still recall the hot summer days he spent in Southern California as a child, watching his father, an immigrant with little money to his name, work tirelessly to grow their small pool and spa supply business into what would become a sizable company with more than 30 locations. As Kurani got older, he was conscripted into the family business and was tasked with doing water testing for customer after customer — a job that was so repetitive, it had Kurani feeling like a robot. When Kurani was running his own Huntington Beach location he was struck with inspiration. “I thought, ‘How can I stick everything I did at my dad’s pool store into a robot?’ ” Kurani recalls thinking.
For Kurani, who earned his engineering degree from the University of California – Riverside, an MBA from Middlebury College and a certificate in energy management from Stanford University, these were not the idle musings of a curious dreamer but something well within his skillset.
After fundraising close to $2 million, Kurani founded Sutro, a startup that has developed an automated sensor-connected application that monitors the health of a swimming pool and notifies users when to do maintenance or order supplies. Or in short, a robot.
The device is designed to help save water, chemicals and energy, but despite what seem like obvious benefits, Kurani still sees opposition from those reluctant to change. “I hear a lot of, ‘This is how we used to do it,’ but if that’s the conservative thought, we’ll be stagnant in progress,” Kurani says. “I’m not advocating for robots doing everyone’s job, but there is a level of collaboration and technology input that can help the industry.”